8 Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law.
Verses 8 to 10 show the obligations of a believer to the civil authorities spoken of in the first seven verses.
8 Owe no one anything
The Christian has one central obligation to everyone—the debt of love. This phrase does not deal with the subject of credit but of what we owe people who are in political office (vv. 1-7). If we owe the government taxes, then we pay them.
Except to love one another,
Love is a debt we owe to others. The one central obligation the believer has to everyone is to love them.
For he who loves another has fulfilled the law.
The Christian who loves others has fulfilled the essence of his debt to the Mosaic “law.” Love is at the heart of the law, not something alongside the law. Love fulfills the standards of the law. The law itself cannot help us to love, because this is not outward conformity to legalistic rules.
The heart of the law is liberty and regard for others. A man does not cheat with another person’s partner or commit murder if he loves people. The law reaches the full measure of what it requires in loving others. Love is complete conformity to the law.
Ga 5: 14 For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
Love is the girdle that holds all aspects of the law together.
Mt 22: 39 And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’
Love is a permanent and universal obligation.
Love can never fully discharge itself. We can never fully repay the debt of love we owe to others. God gave us the resources to make this payment wherever it is needed.
Verse eight is not a prohibition against owning debt. It is an injunction to give people what we owe them. The one debt that stands above all others is our debt to love others unselfishly (agape). We are to go out of our way and sacrificially put ourselves out for others. This is love of the will rather than emotions. Emotions simply manifest this love, not cause it. It is our love for God that motivates this kind of love. Love gives more than what it owes.
Love keeps the wellbeing of others in view at all times. It is others oriented and therefore self-sacrificing. Love is not an emotion that may or may not be exercised as we please. It does not select people to love according to our preference of whether they are loveable or good enough to love. Christians love without distinction. It is of no consequence whether people are good or bad, beautiful or ugly. We stand in the debt to love them all.
Self-centered people always think of themselves rather than what they owe others. They always magnify their rights.
Love does not displace or dispense with law. The point is not that the law is love but that love fulfills the law.